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Second, protect the quarterback and throw passes into the weak spots. Recently Jaworski stood in a doorway at NFL Films' offices in New Jersey and watched as Greg Cosell, executive producer of NFL Matchup, cued up a play from the Lions-Rams game in Week 4. St. Louis's Mark Bulger dropped five steps and found wideout Isaac Bruce 19 yards deep on the right sideline, behind the corner and just before the safety arrived. "That's the sweet spot--18, 19 yards on the sideline," Jaworski said. "Any less and the guy is still jammed, any more and the receiver's in the hospital. And it takes a great throw."
Another weak spot is the deep middle (unless the linebacker is Urlacher). "That guy will be open on the post," says Spurrier. "But it takes time--that's the problem."
One other method: Get ahead. When the defense is playing Tampa Two, the offense is forced to burn the clock, which no trailing team can afford. When the Bears fell behind Arizona in October, they abandoned Tampa Two almost entirely.
Back to Soldier Field now, to that October play. It was, in fact, a Tampa Two symphony. Corners Tillman and Nathan Vasher got solid jams on Seattle's outside receivers. Urlacher ran straight down the middle with slot wideout Darrell Jackson. Nickelback Manning locked on Engram, and Briggs floated between Engram and receiver Deion Branch. By watching Hasselbeck's eyes, Briggs correctly guessed he wasn't going to throw left to Branch. Just as Hasselbeck started to make his reads, the pocket began collapsing as Harris attacked up the middle and Brown came from the outside. With no other choice, Hasselbeck went to Engram; even if the pass had been completed, the play would not have been a first down. One small victory in a game of endless battles.
The fight continues long after the game ends. "I guarantee you, people are all over this defense in their film study," says Carroll. "They're figuring it out." And the next innovation awaits.